software patents (STWL: please comment)

Bernhard Fastenrath bfastenrath at
Mon Nov 15 13:57:42 UTC 2004

Lasse Reichstein Nielsen wrote:
> On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 16:39:37 +0100, Bernhard Fastenrath  
> <bfastenrath at> wrote:
> [current wording being discussed]
>>    "5. If you are owner of software patents you agree to refrain from
>> any legal action based on infringement of your intellectual property  
>> claims derived from __said_patents__ against users of open source  
>> software and concerning open source software as defined by the Open  
>> Source Initiative (OSI)."
> How will be bound by this clause (i.e., who is "you")?

I thought it was apparent that in a software license the licensee is
the person being adressed ('you').

> If you add it to section 2 of the GPL, it will affect people making
> modifications, but if you add it to section 3, it will affect people
> distributing the program. You will have to be more precise about
> what is added where.

The GPL+PIP was just an idea, the STWL is the main topic here and the 
STWL does not  have that problem. I think I'll leave it to the FSF to 
make modifications to the GPL ;-)

> if the goal is to prevent patent litigation entirely, then this might
> suffice, otherwise it is overly broad.
> Anyone who accepts a license containing this text will be prevented
> from filing *any* claims, because *everyone* is a "user of open source
> software" (if nothing else, there is BSD code in Windows).

Okay, that is not the intended result. The wording would have to be 
changed to include users of open source software being used under an 
open source license and not as part of a commercial product, except if 
that product is a software distribution of open source software, as, for 
example, Redhat or SuSE Linux.

> The text doesn't require the claims to be about the covered software.

Yes. That is the good part. If MS sues a Linux user because Linux 
infringes on some of their patents all their STWL-based licenses and 
possible licenses with this clause as an addition are immediately 

>> This paragraph is only related to software patents. You have to have
>> a software patent or this paragraph does not apply.
> But if you do, and if it applies, you cannot enforce the patent at all
> against anybody.

I modified that, even though not being able to enforce patents at all 
sounds alright to me.

> /L

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